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Theodore Taylor was one of the most brilliant engineers of the nuclear age, but in his later years he became concerned with the possibility of an individual being able to construct a weapon of mass destruction on their own. McPhee tours American nuclear institutions with Taylor and shows us how close we are to terrorist attacks employing homemade nuclear weaponry.
John McPhee is the author of more than 25 books, including Annals of the Former World, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction in 1999. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1965 and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were both nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.
With his customary reportorial brilliance, John McPhee has written the story of the life and career of Theodore B. Taylor, a theoretical physicist who has been one of the most inventive nuclear scientists of our time. He miniaturized the atomic bomb, and also designed the largest-yield fission bomb that has ever been exploded. Subsequently, he led a scientific effort to build a nuclear-powered spaceship. But he later became convinced that weapons-grade uranium and plutonium are alarmingly available to anyone who might wish to build a homemade bomb, and that such an undertaking would not be impossible, as some think. Taylor for many years has tried to effect improvements in the protection of nuclear materials, in the hope of averting their catastrophic use. McPhee's exploration of Taylor's world provides a timely look at a central aspect of the history of nuclear energy, and the assessment of one of its risks.
A book holding, with pretty good authority, that tens of thousands of people know enough about the bomb and are close enough to what they don't know to produce a bomb at home . . . The report's art at its difficult best."—Alvin Beam, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer
"Though dwellers in the nuclear age should ponder this book, as much for its intellectual excitement as for its warning."—Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
Ben Williams Presents Galen Winsor – 1986
Ben Williams (benwilliamslibrary.com) made this video with Galen Winsor in 1986. Galen Winsor is a nuclear physicist of renown who worked at, and helped design, nuclear power plants in Hanford, WA; Oak Ridge, TN; Morris, IL, San Jose, CA; Wimington, NJ. Among his positions of expertise he was in charge of measuring and controlling the nuclear fuel inventory and storage.
Galen Winsor has traveled and lectured all over America, spoken on national talk radio, and made several videos exposing the misunderstood issues of nuclear radiation. He shows that fear of radiation has been exaggerated to scare people … so a few powerful people can maintain total control of the world’s most valuable power resource.